As we have previewed before, Chronicle: RuneScape Legends has been slowly building up to its release, and now it's finally out. How does the final Steam version do? Well...
Plunging into the world of cardgames within the RuneScape world, you pick your cards and battle it out against another player. Your character (AKA "legend") goes through five chapters and defeat the waves of cards (that are shown as figurines on the board) that have been set up to block you/wear you down. It can't be judged on telling a great story, but it can be judged on being a card game - and it works. It adds some unique twists into a standard card game, being complicated enough for fans of more complex games, open enough (especially with the tutorial) for fans of more relaxed games, and having enough RuneScape references to grab fans of the long-standing MMORPG.
This being a card/board game, the graphics aren't going to be 100% next-gen. But for what it does, it's very comparable to what you would expect from RuneScape or World of Warcraft: cartoony, but functional. Not too detailed in many regards, but very detailed when it counts. In short, it looks exactly how you expect it to, and it works well. If you've played Hearthstone, you'll have a very good idea of what to expect. It is unique though. It's like wizard chess from Harry Potter joining the tabletop cardgame world. They come out as cutout creatures and players, but they'll do kill animations and come 'alive' as you play. It's a unique spin and the animations don't get old.
When it comes to gameplay, it could have been a smidge better. Even with the tutorial, it can be complicated. I found myself getting a pack of cards and placing them around, but soon encountered problems with how much gold I had, or how to set up your cards in the right order. There's a big learning curve here. The controls are fine, but knowing what to hit doesn't make up for being confusing. I decided to go with the “Trial by Fire” method, and there I learned fast. The mechanics of the game could be, at times, almost unreasonable. Even those coming in from, say, Magic: the Gathering might be a bit overwhelmed. But if you give it time and go through a few games, you'll soon learn how to organize your deck and what everything does, and be on your way to beating your opponent. The game works well and the rules and aspects of it work together, but be prepared for a little longer than usual learning time.
The music and sounds are very fitting too. From my preview, I can still report you'll feel terrible for hearing so many dog whines when you kill one in a chapter. Music is a mix of the standard Medieval-fantasy inn music, Pokémon battle music with a hint of gladiator fanfare. It fits the setting but also amps you up for battles, and it feels pretty right. Other sounds hit the mark. Cards and board setup sound papery and exactly how you would think. I guess some of the grunts and sword clashes sound the same, but when you're focused on the strategy of it you don't notice all that much. I did, but even with that, it all sounds well enough.
There were no real mechanics issues or glitches to report. There were some long-ish loading times, but considering the scope of the game, it's almost expected. It also paused for a few seconds here and there, but I amount that to loading the next segment up as well and not, say, my computer panicking.
Overall it keeps up the reputation it has been building of being fun, addicting and challenging. I wish the difficulty curve was more on the 45 degree side of things than being a 90, and the graphics could have been a smidge less computer-y. But it hits too many high notes, and anything that could be seen as an annoyance is drowned out by twenty other things that are going too right. I had fun with it, and even with the RuneScape wiki open the entire time and a steep learning curve, once you get the hang of it, it becomes a real joy.
Final score: 9.3 out of 10